This Week in Arizona Politics: 5 Things to Know

January 23,2018 | Triadvocates

1. We are just starting our third week of the legislative session, and Gov. Doug Ducey is wasting no time. This afternoon, he called for a special session in order to give priority consideration to legislation combating the opioid epidemic. The proposal, outlined in this policy primer, attacks the epidemic on multiple levels—from adding treatment options and access for addicts, to increasing penalties and oversight for doctors who prescribe the highly addictive medications. Once the legislation is introduced tomorrow, we expect this to move very quickly, as the governor wants to see an approved bill on his desk by Friday. The special session will be held concurrently with the regular session—aside from longer days and a slew of procedural protocols, we won’t notice much of a difference at the Capitol.

2. Every year brings interesting bills that seem to come from the category of “wouldn’t it be nice if…” And, of course, this session is no different. Amusing bills to watch include legislation banning pets from sitting on your lap while driving, legislation that would allow you to  pay your income taxes with Bitcoin, and legislation that would make motorcycle lane-splitting legal in Arizona. One of the most entertaining is a bill that essentially encourages California to secede from the United States—it appears that some members are not big fans of the Golden State, as the resolution is proposed “with the hope of mutual happiness” for both Arizona and California. Translation: don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

3. Last week, the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors appointed ex-legislator Rick Gray to replace former state Sen. Debbie Lesko, who resigned at the end of the opening day of the 2018 legislative session to run for CD8. Gray served in the House from 2011 to 2016, which helped him edge out Rep. Tony Rivero and former Rep. Jean McGrath, whom LD21 precinct committeemen also nominated last week to replace Lesko. Gray will be sworn in on Jan. 19 and will serve on the Senate Education, Finance, and Health & Human Services Committees.

4. With session expected to wrap by mid-April, the pressure is on and the clock is ticking. The pace will only continue to pick up, as important legislative deadlines are starting to kicking in. As of Jan. 11, House members can only introduce seven bills each—such a rule doesn’t apply to the Senate, however, the last day for senators to submit bill requests to their legislative drafters was Jan. 16. For those of you who hold your breath each year, wondering what type of shenanigans the Legislature will pull, below is an overview of key upcoming legislative deadlines. Once we hit these dates, you can relax…well, actually, not really. Technically, these can be extended by leadership and/or a majority vote of each chamber. Isn’t session fun?

  • Jan. 29 – Last day to introduce bills in the Senate.

  • Feb. 2 – Last day to introduce bills in the House.

  • Feb. 16 – Last day to hear Senate bills in Senate committees and House bills in House committees.

  • March 23 – Last day to hear bills in committee in either chamber.

  • April 7 – Last day for conference committees.

  • April 17 – 100th Day of Session; legislative rules establish this as the date for Sine Die adjournment but can be extended by a simple majority vote—this happens on a regular basis.

5. On Jan. 12, U.S. Rep. Martha McSally officially announced her candidacy for U.S. Senate, confirming widespread speculation that she planned to jump into the race. The seat became open after longtime Arizona politician U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake announced his retirement in October 2017. McSally is currently serving in her second term representing CD2, which includes Tucson and much of southern Arizona. In her life prior to politics, McSally was one of the highest ranked female fighter pilots in Air Force history. McSally will be challenged in the Aug. 28 primary by two Republicans—former Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio and former state Sen. Kelli Ward, both far-right politicians who have aligned themselves with President Trump. The winner of that primary will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema from CD9 in the general election this November.

“The idea of a title of senator is about as appealing to me as if somebody says, ‘I’m gonna take you out for dinner and we’re going to have a great bowl of kale.’ But the opportunity to serve, to me, is what’s important.” 

– Rick Gray, on his appointment to the LD21 Senate seat.


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